Free Tips to Help a Rescue Dog Get Over a Fear of the Car

By: David Codr

Published Date: January 21, 2020

For this Omaha dog training session we helped 1 year-old German Shepherd rescue Thor (pictured here on the left with his roomie 3 year-old German Shepherd mix Macy), sharing tips to help him get over his fear of the car.

Thor was rescued from an American Indian reservation at 4 weeks which most certainly contributed to some stunted social development. While its great that his family adopted him, in a perfect situation being placed with a litter or puppies of a similar age would have been very advantageous.

Since he didnt receive so many social lessons form his mother and siblings, Thor is pretty anxious around new people and experiences. He barked at me for the first part of the session. I used some dog behaviorist tricks to help him relax and spent that time sharing dog behavior tips with his guardian.

Once Thor had calmed down, I started working to build up his trust. I avoided direct eye contact, moved only when he was watching and in slower, fluid movements. I used plenty of high value training treats to help create a positive association and didnt try to pet or talk to him until he was comfortable to lay down on the floor near me unprompted.

When you are working with a fearful dog, its best to go slow. Many people rush through the necessary steps of canine rehabilitation and this often results in partial progress that can easily regress. When you have a dog who is scared of things or people, you have to help them learn that the thing isn’t something to be feared by creating positive associations at levels that the dog can experience without reacting.

There are many ways to help a dog overcome its fears. I pulled out my camera so I could share some tips to help a fearful dog stop feeling anxious or scared of things like a car or ramp to get into the car.

By first helping the dog feel comfortable at the sight of the car, then providing motivation for him to get closer, on his own without any force, you can help a fearful dog learn there isn’t anything to be scared of.

This will take time and practice and lots of high value treats. Fortunately for Thor, his guardians are willing and patient. They had enrolled him into our puppy socialization classes which had helped, but I feel fortunate that they reached out for some in home dog behavior training assistance as this is certainly a case for a Dog Behaviorist.

I asked the guardians to text me with any questions or if they encounter any hiccups or problems as they practice these tips to help the dog stop being scared of the car. Its quite normal to need to make adjustments and the sooner they reach out for guidence the faster his progress will be. We may need to set up a follow up session if he reacts negatively to the ramp or when all the pieces of this canine rehabilitation plan are put together

I filmed a roadmap to success video to help the humans remember all the other dog behavior tips we covered in this in home Omaha dog training session.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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